[FOUNTAIN]Good Bridges, Good Neighbors

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[FOUNTAIN]Good Bridges, Good Neighbors

Like a national stamp, the motif on each nation's monetary bills reflects aspects of history and culture that it prizes. Bills usually bear cultural monuments or heroes. One of France's bills depicts the writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900-1944), illustrating the French respect for literature. German bills feature the brothers Jacob Grimm (1785-1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786-1859), who wrote fairy tales, the composer Robert Schumann (1810-1856) and the mathematician Johan Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855).

The one dollar bill of the United States portrays George Washington (1732-1799), the "father" of the country. In Britain, whose political system is a constitutional monarchy, and Canada, where Queen Elizabeth II is the formal ruler, bank notes contain the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.

The one pound bill of Egypt presents Ramses II, who reigned in Egypt from 1279 B.C. to 1213 B.C., and the Abu Simbel temple, demonstrating Egyptians' pride in their history. In China, one bill contains the faces of Mao Zedong, Zhu Da, Liu Shaochi, and Deng Xiaoping side by side. Presenting Mao Zedong, author of the Cultural Revolution in China, along with Liu Shaochi, who became a victim of the movement, and Deng Xiaoping who led reform and open-door policy, could be a Chinese effort to reconcile with its history.

The 10,000 yen bill of Japan features a portrait of Fukuzawa Yukichi. Although this man is considered in Japan a reformist and hero who introduced Western ideas to Japan, for Koreans, Fukuzawa Yukichi is an object of hate for arguing that Japan conquered Korea in the 19th century.

A bridge that symbolizes the link among member countries will be used as the central image of the euro bill to be used in 10 European Union member nations. Using certain historic figures or national monuments might be seen as betraying the spirit of integration and ignite friction.

To avoid this, an imaginary bridge will be designed, but it is said that whenever a draft is suggested, some insist that the bridge resembles a certain existing bridge. If it is an arched stone bridge, they argue it is similar to Realto bridge in Venice. If it is a two-story stone bridge, they say it resembles bridges from Ancient Rome that remain in France, Spain or Italy.

Korea is currently suffering a rupture over the allegedly illegal acts committed by a South Korean delegation while visiting Pyongyang. I assume the incident occurred because some members of the delegation behaved improperly and the official South Korean approach to reunification is unclear. Koreans yearn for a bridge to reunification. I believe we should build a strong stone one even if it takes longer time.

The writer is a deputy foreign news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Chae In-taek

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